Reentry permit processing time and more

Understanding the reentry permit processing time is essential for U.S. permanent residents planning to travel abroad for extended periods. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key aspects of reentry permits, including processing times, application steps, and tips for a seamless experience. By the end of this article, you’ll be well-equipped to manage your travel plans without jeopardizing your residency status.

What is a reentry permit?

A reentry permit is a travel document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It allows U.S. permanent residents to leave the country for more than one year but less than two years without abandoning their residency status. This document is crucial for those who need to travel frequently or live abroad for work, study, or personal reasons. Without a reentry permit, staying outside the U.S. for more than a year can lead to the loss of your green card.

Why understanding reentry permit processing time matters?

Knowing the reentry permit processing time is vital for planning your travels effectively. The processing time can range from 1 to 5 months, depending on various factors such as USCIS workload, the completeness of your application, and whether any additional information or documentation is required. Therefore, applying well in advance of your intended departure date is essential to avoid travel disruptions and potential issues with your residency status.

Factors affecting reentry permit processing time

Several factors can influence the reentry permit processing time:

  • USCIS workload: Processing times can vary based on the number of applications USCIS is handling at any given time.
  • Application completeness: Incomplete applications or missing documents can delay the process.
  • Biometrics appointment: Scheduling and attending your biometrics appointment promptly can affect the timeline.
  • Additional documentation: If USCIS requests more information or documentation, it can extend the processing time.

How to apply for a reentry permit?

Applying for a reentry permit involves several steps. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

  1. Complete Form I-131: The Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) is the primary form required for a reentry permit. You can download this form from the USCIS website.
  2. Submit supporting documents: Along with Form I-131, you’ll need to provide supporting documents such as a copy of your green card, passport, and photographs. Ensure all documents are current and legible.
  3. Pay the filing fee: The filing fee for Form I-131 is required when submitting your application. Check the USCIS website for the most current fee schedule.
  4. Attend a biometrics appointment: USCIS will schedule an appointment to collect your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. This appointment is a crucial step in the application process.
  5. Submit your application: Once you’ve completed the form, gathered your supporting documents, and paid the fee, submit your application to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox or Service Center.

Tips to expedite the reentry permit processing time

To ensure a smooth and efficient process, follow these tips:

  • Apply early: Submit your application as soon as you know your travel plans. Applying several months in advance can help you avoid last-minute stress.
  • Double-check your documents: Ensure all required documents are complete, accurate, and up-to-date. Errors or missing information can delay your application.
  • Stay informed: Regularly check the USCIS website for updates on processing times and any changes to the application process. Being informed can help you manage your expectations and plan accordingly.
  • Consider expedited processing: In urgent situations, you may request expedited processing by providing a valid reason, such as an employment opportunity or a family emergency. USCIS will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis.

Common challenges and solutions

Navigating the reentry permit process can present several challenges. Here are some common issues and how to address them:

  • Delays in processing: If your application is taking longer than expected, contact USCIS for a status update. You can also check your case status online using your receipt number.
  • Missing biometrics appointment: If you miss your biometrics appointment, reschedule it as soon as possible. Missing this appointment can significantly delay your application.
  • Request for additional information: If USCIS requests more information or documentation, respond promptly and provide all requested materials. Delays in responding can extend the processing time.

What to do if your reentry permit is delayed?

If your reentry permit processing time exceeds the expected duration, take the following steps:

  • Contact USCIS: Inquire about the status of your application through the USCIS customer service or online portal. Providing your receipt number can help them locate your case quickly.
  • Seek legal assistance: Consult an immigration attorney to explore your options and address any potential issues. An attorney can provide valuable guidance and help resolve any complications.
  • Monitor your case status: Regularly check your case status online using the USCIS case status tool. Staying informed can help you take timely action if needed.

Can you file Form I-131 for a Reentry Permit outside the United States?

As a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) planning to travel abroad, it’s crucial to know that you cannot file Form I-131 for a reentry permit while outside the United States. You must be physically present in the U.S. when submitting this form. To ensure your travel plans go smoothly, file Form I-131 at least 60 days before your intended departure date.

Consequences of not applying for a Reentry Permit before traveling abroad as an LPR

If you are a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) planning to travel outside the United States for a year or more, it’s essential to apply for a reentry permit before you leave. Failing to do so may result in being considered as having abandoned your permanent resident status.

In such cases, you might be required to appear before an immigration judge to determine whether you have abandoned your status. If you find yourself in this situation, contact the U.S. consulate to inquire about obtaining a returning resident visa.


Understanding the reentry permit processing time and preparing accordingly can save you from unnecessary stress and complications. By following the outlined steps and tips, you can ensure a smoother application process and maintain your U.S. residency status while traveling abroad. For more detailed information, visit the USCIS website or consult an immigration expert.

Additional resources

written by Alexander Alfano
Alexander Joseph Alfano is the Director and Chief Legal Counsel of Financial Legal Group INC. He's a distinguished lawyer in since 1993, specializes in financial services, immigration law, nonprofit corporations, and civil cases.